How bitter that you can reach your olive grove only once a year!

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Rachel A., Tzvia S. (reporting); Translator:  Charles K.
Agricultural checkpoint - Jayyus North 535
Rachel Afek

We were on our way before dawn.  It’s the route and the locations we’ve often observed during the past year. 

Falamiya north:  We weren’t familiar with the changes made near the gate to prevent the Palestinians and us from standing right next to it.  When we arrived the checkpoint was already open.  We saw many Palestinians going through the gate on foot, along with 15 tractors pulling open wagons in which women rode.  All were on their way to harvest olives.  The soldiers were MPs, and they behaved repellently to us.

The Palestinians’ complaints:

  1. The evening opening hours of the gate forces them to remain in the groves until 18:00, and they would like to return home earlier.
  1. Additional family members aren’t permitted to work in the harvest.

Before the fence was erected the harvest was a family festival during which everyone, including the elderly and the little children, would go to the groves, pick the fruit and all eat together happily in the afternoon.  We’ve been robbed of all that since the fence was erected.

  1. Because of the fence’s gatesinfo-icon and the fact they’re open only seasonally, they’re unable to raise various seasonal crops as they previously could before the fence was erected.
  2. Complaints about the behavior of the female soldier, who also spoke rudely to us: “We’ve heard about you; you don’t care what happens to Jews, only to Arabs,” she tried to teach us about equality and human rights.

Jayyus north:  There were also more workers there than usual.  Nine tractors crossed; we heard the same complaints.

Jayyus south:  We got a bit lost on the way to the Jayous south checkpoint but still arrived before the soldiers.  Three carts and 7 workers, including 4 women, went through.  And the same complaints.  “The occupation is bad,” which they didn’t say but which we’ve known for a very long time.

The last checkpoint was at Khirbet Isla.  On the way we discovered that the road connecting the Jayous south checkpoint to Nabi Ilyas has been cut by a ditch along the new road being constructed for the settlers to bypass Nabi Ilyas.  One of the workers showed us the subterranean crossing we had to take to reach Nabi Ilyas.  As usual, the Jews ride above and the Palestinians below the road.

Khirbet Isla.  The checkpoint opened fairly late – 08:25.  Many people waited.  The same soldiers showed up.  The flock we remembered crossed at the same hour as last year.  There were no complaints.  The residents of Khirbet ‘Isla seem satisfied with the situation.  We learned the name comes from the fact that in the past there were many beehives producing honey (‘Asal).

After visiting Z. in ‘Azzun we returned home, again wondering “How long will this go on?”  And what’s the point of one more shift after another.  But we’ll go on – Tzvia is determined.